08 March 2015

Botswana, Hurry Up and Wait

The lifestyle is completely different. The living conditions while not bad, take some getting used to; things like going from shopping store to shopping store to see who had stock of what that week, and who had jacked up their prices to astronomical amounts. But despite being a village in Africa, Maun has most things you’d get in any small city.

The flying is also something else (obviously, going from instruction to charter). It’s quite a big leap, especially when operating from muddy strips, in hot conditions, fully loaded and at altitude. It’s an eye opener of note. But the view is something to behold. Stark contrasts between brown desert, blue waters and green swamps teeming with wildlife.

The skies are bright blue with unlimited visibility on some days, and on others the smoke and dust means that seeing more than a kilometre or two is the best you
’re going to get. And the storms show the true power of nature. Slow build ups during the day, with rumbling thunder and cracks of lightning announcing the arrival of a torrential downpour. The next morning the air is fresh, and the roads have a clean look about them. A few days later the trees get greener and grass sprouts from the sand on the side of the road.

The road has been a winding one, but not particularly long (unless you count that fact that, technically, I have waited some two years for this opportunity).
Since arriving in Maun (start of October), I spent about 1 month doing a lot of nothing. Once the paperwork was done for the work permit, it was very much a game of Hurry Up And Wait. Every day, from 8am to 5pm, spent alternating between helping in the office, and taking a break in the pilot room, made me realise I am not cut out for a desk job.

Trips to the terminal to file flight plans were welcomed, as were any other errands; basically anything that kept me moving, and got me out of the office, improved my mood. And then of course, I was able to jump on some flights and get familiar with the Okavango Delta. I was doing so many flights observing from the right seat of the Caravan that I was starting to become quite proficient at the procedures required to operate it.

Days blur into one out here; there are no longer different days of the week, every day is the same, just a different date. Everyone’s weekend is different, and soon the whole concept of a Saturday-Sunday weekend falls away completely. Really messes with the mind in the beginning.

A lot of patience is required. The work permit application can take anything from two weeks to several months. And if it is rejected, well, sorry for you. Public holidays and the build up to Christmas threaten to slow things down even more. It becomes stressful, and it’s easy to start thinking about the “What If’s”. But, you need to stay positive; rock up in the office every morning with a smile on your face, and display some enthusiasm.

Because the normal days of the week cease to exist, days feel like weeks, and weeks feel like months. “Was my work permit in its second or third week?” were normal thoughts for me. “Oh well, I’ll go check on the progress anyway”.

Good thing too. A decision had been made! But, they weren’t going to tell me, and I would have to wait another day or two.

Long story short (not really), I was granted a temporary work permit! I may now legally work in Botswana! Woohoo!

Relief, joy, happiness, and yet, I’m still too scared to accept that all of this has really happened; in the past things would always tend to take a turn for the worst as soon as I acknowledged them. Ever since being offered the job, I have been too scared to share the news, or accept that it has happened, lest it all turn out to be a dream. Reality still hasn’t sunk in.

Which is a little bit disconcerting. However, all of it feels right. It feels like I have been living here for years. I am settled, I have a routine, and while I do miss home (the South African one), I am happy out here.


I was privileged enough to spend a night at Mashatu before taking on the final stretch to Maun.

This was my first real bush experience, and I was blown away.

If you're looking for a beautiful place to stay, with good game viewing, and don't want to have to travel too far, I can highly recommend Mashatu Game Reserve.

My Life in a Box

My Life in a Box - Cape to Maun

I planned for at least a month. Routes, accommodation, budgets. I got my car, a 1998 Golf Chico with over 210 000km, road-trip-ready, and kitted it out with a toolbox, tyre pump, puncture fix, tie wraps, duct tape, oil, tow rope, jumper leads, everything I thought I might need. I fixed the dent in my door, and sorted out the speakers (which hadn’t worked for the past 4 years, and took all of 10 minutes to sort out).

As you can see, I’m very much a DIY person, and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. Vehicle ready, it was time to get myself ready.
How was I to pack up 22 years of stuff? Methodically, said the OCD part of me. And so, box after box was filled, and stored in my cupboard. And when the cupboard became full, the boxes lined my room. Wow, I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the years!
The essentials were packed in different boxes, and into the car. Surprisingly, once everything was packed, there was ample room left over (I could’ve taken the kitchen sink if I wanted to!), though the suspension was groaning a little under the weight.

So, with my life in several boxes, I set off from home on the morning of 7 October.
And within 20 minutes of leaving, I was forced to experience one of the scariest things in my life; driving up Sir Lowry’s Pass in the pitch dark, with thick fog, and trucks all over. I almost wrote myself off within the first 30km of my new adventure, when the lights I thought were cats eyes on the road turned out to be the tail gate of a truck.

After some incredibly tense driving, the sky lightened and the fog thinned, and from there it was smooth sailing.

A visit at Cape Agulhas was had.
And brunch at the Blue Crane Farm Stall near Riversdale was most welcome (pull in there if you’re ever in the area!)
Eventually I reached Mossel Bay, and had coffee with friends in Nature’s Valley. My first time there, it is now on the ‘Bucket List of Roads to Ride on the Bike’.
Then it was a final push to PE where I would be staying for the night. Night was fast approaching and I was almost taken out by a buck not 20km from my accommodation. Yee-ha!

Day One done, and the Golf had performed well. Fuel consumption was amazing; 600km on just over half a tank! Sadly, this didn’t continue.
Day Two, and I took the back roads to Port Shepstone. This was the complete opposite to the previous day, which apart from a few scares, was quite relaxing. The back roads, while absolutely beautiful, were busy with plenty of busses and trucks, and being single lane each way, over-taking opportunities were slim. And at some several thousand feet above sea level, the Golf simply didn’t have the power to do more than 80km/h most of the way.

Here I went via the backroads of the Eastern Cape.
I should have had a bite to eat in Queenstown but thought there would be another place to stop. BIG mistake! I ended up doing a 7hr stretch, non-stop, and the first time I ate a ‘proper’ meal was in Port Shepstone; a rather lacking Steers burger and chips.
From there it felt amazing to be back on the N2, and I cruised to Ballito in the setting sun.

I spent two nights in Ballito, and then carried on to Centurion.
Having done JHB-Ballito before, I decided to take a different route this time; Greytown it was. And it was very grey indeed. More fog, and a fair amount of rain. My hopes of seeing rolling green hills were dashed by the weather. But, it was still a nice drive.

As I got to JHB, my Golf proved what a trusty little steed it was when I put my emergency braking to the test on the highway. Locked the wheels I did. That woke me up! (Road works, and lanes merging, and me misjudging the speed of the car ahead).

Two nights in Centurion, and then I set off for Limpopo Valley, Mashatu, to be precise. A short drive compared to previous days, a speedy border crossing at Pont Drift, and before I knew it, I was in Botswana!
Within 5km of crossing the border I saw wildebeest and zebra, and the grin on my face widened and I couldn’t stop laughing; I was finally here!
I spent the night at Mashatu Game Reserve, where I had my first real taste of the African Bush; luck was in my favour, and I had my first wild cheetah and lion sightings. I was on Cloud Nine!

The next morning I set off for Maun. With about 80km of dirt road, the Golf proved it could be a rally car. However, the speakers broke again, and now my car is quite literally held together with duct tape. Ah well.

Up until now I had kept a steady pace, not pushing it too much, but not taking it too slowly. Unfortunately, get-there-itis had set in, and I put foot to Maun once I hit the tar, determined to make it there before night-fall (despite having only set off from Mashatu around 10am).

The A1 was having upgrades done, so a lot of it was freshly-rolled tar, which made me very happy. But from Francistown, I got lost, and then was back on the pot-hole riddled roads. 100km from Maun, with the sun setting, the Golf had had enough; for the first time in over 3000km, it had used oil, and the little red oil warning light stared me in the face. I pulled over, opened up the bonnet, gave it some oil, and allowed it to rest a short while, using the opportunity to take photos.

But, night was approaching rapidly, and my hopes of reaching Maun before it got dark were a distant memory. Driving in the dark out here is a no-go. Not long after my unscheduled stop, I had my first wild dog sighting; it ran across the road in front of me. Quite cool. And as night set in, I had the stuffing scared out of me when I saw cows on the side of the road, their eyes glimmering from the car’s headlights, making them look like demons.

Around 8pm I rolled into Maun, a tired, sweaty, dust-covered wreck. Car overheating and only one speaker working, it was starting to complain again, and refused to idle. Road-trip food eaten and no water left, all I wanted was to crawl into bed and sleep. And I still had to unpack the car, and would be sleeping on the couch. But it didn’t matter. I had arrived!

3 Countries, in 3 Days - 2000-and-something-kay's on a DR650

- The Introduction
- The Planning
- The Bike
- The Ride

The Introduction

Last year I made a big move: I was going to spread my wings, and take on the world by myself. So I resigned, got a new job, new house, and moved to a new country. I had adopted a go-getter attitude, and I think it was because I was starting to realise and appreciate just how short life is.

I always used to wait for that “perfect moment” before doing things, and I have come to realise that there is no such thing. All that money I had been working hard for and saving up for a ‘rainy day’ was just sitting there. And it dawned on me that if I get the opportunity to do something cool, I’m going to do it now! Why wait?

You only live once, so why not.

I think it was about a year ago when I started to think about doing a long distance bike trip. I mean, up until now I had done quite a lot of long distance trips:
- I flew an aircraft from JHB to Cape Town, solo (cruising at a whole 85mph. It took me 3 days and 14 hours’ worth of flying)
- I then drove from JHB to Maun, with a friend, over the course of one day
- One month later I drove from Maun to JHB, solo, over the course of one day
- One week later I drove from JHB to CT, solo, over the course of one day
- October 2014, I drove from CT to PE, then PE to Ballito, then Ballito to JHB, then JHB to Maun, solo, over the course of about a week
See the trend? I was no stranger to many hours spent on the road (or in the air). But I had yet to do a long-distance trip on a motorbike.


The Planning

In January, after about 4 months in Botswana, there was an opportunity for me to take some leave. I originally planned to spend it in Botswana, with my mother. But a colleague was also taking leave, and driving to JHB, and I thought ‘Hang on...’
I could drive to JHB, catch a flight to CT, spend some time at home, and then ride the bike back.
Yes, genius plan!

Now all I had to do was decide on a route, find someone to ride back with me, find places to stay, kit the bike out, buy gear, and rob a bank!

Route-wise, I ruled out going via JHB from the start: I had driven the N1, and I didn’t want to do it again. And I am scared of JHB traffic.
Two other options were via Upington or Kimberly, and then on to Gaborone.
A colleague looked at this and said that petrol stations were far and few between, and I would be better off going via Namibia.
I had only ever been to Namibia once, and I’m not even sure if it counted, as it was Oranjemund, which is right on the border.
Done! Via Namibia it is!

I drew up a list of stuff I had to pack from Botswana, a list of stuff to buy in SA, and a list of stuff to do on the bike.

Dodgygloss volunteered to ride up with me, but only for the first day.
Originally I said that if I can’t find anyone to do the whole trip with me, I wouldn’t go. But, you only live once! I would just have to be prepared for all possible scenarios, and take it easy.

Leg 1 - Sunningdale to Vioolsdrift 663km 05:00 - 16:00


Leg 2 - Vioolsdrift to Windhoek 800km 07:00 - 17:00

Grunau 144
Keetmanshoop 163
Tses 83
Asab 52 **No petrol @ Asab
Mariental 100 *
Rehoboth 179
Windhoek 90

Leg 3 - Windhoek to Maun 809km 07:00 - 18:30

Gobabis 204
Trans-Kalahari Border Post 112
Charles Hill 11
Ghanzi 215
Maun 287 294?

The Bike

My steed is the noble Suzuki DR650. I bought it around January 2014, with 40-something-thousand km on it. It came with a topbox, and a Garmin GPS mount (which I used as a GoPro mount).
While still in Botswana, I asked Dux to start prepping the bike for me.
He made a cool carrier with a built-in toolbox, and some pannier-bar-bag-thing-a-ma-jigs. And we made a new windscreen (my DIY one went flying a week before on a ride to Robertson).
The bike also had a service in preparation for the looong ride.

^Template for a new windscreen

^LOTS of silicon and double-sided tape to fit the screen

^The end product

I managed to source some Oxford soft luggage (from a fellow WD), and a Honda magnetic tankbag (bought for a steal off of Gumtree). I considered buying a long-range fuel tank, but Dux had a better idea; two 5l containers in some bags that you can just throw over the seat (or tank, as seen below).

The toolkit comprised of:
Spanners, allen keys, screwdrivers, plug-spanner, pliers, tyre levers.
Spares included:
A spare tube for the front and rear, oil
Other stuff:
Tie wraps, duct tape, insulation tape, rags, all-purpose lubricant, two cans of Puncture Fix, rope, bungees, straps, cargo net, air compressor, x2 5l bottles for extra fuel

And some more stuff:
First Aid Kit, Deep Freeze, pain killers and Immodium, suncream, buff’s, headlamp, spare batteries, poncho, emergency blanket, black bags, sewing kit, lots of Rehydrate sachets, 2l camelback with water, 2x 750ml bottles of water, 3x bottles of Powerade, trail mix, peanuts, cereal bars, Enerjellies, wetwipes, waterless hand sanitiser, Vaseline, camera, flying stuff, chain and lock (bike’s steering lock was on the fritz), sleeping bag, tent, 5 t-shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of long pants, shoes, plakkies, a raincoat, socks and undies, toilet paper.

Yip, I think that’s it. So, I had to fit all of that on the bike. Easier said than done. Getting on the bike once everything was loaded, took almost as long as loading everything. And it was difficult. I fell over. In my garage. Twice.

^Topbox, with a lot of stuff squished in!

^Fully loaded!


The Ride

The date was set: Dodgygloss and I would leave on Friday, 20 February. We decided that I would stay at his house in Blouberg, as that would save me from having to get up an hour earlier to ride from Somerset West and meet up with him.

I had this grand scheme that I would do test-packs to get comfortable on the bike and see what worked. Suffice to say the last couple of days at home were chaos, and my test pack was midday Thursday, shortly before leaving home for Blouberg. I checked that everything was secure, hauled myself onto the bike, rode around the block, got home, parked. Extracted myself from the bike, and dropped it. Oops.

^One of the very quick test-packs

Riding it wasn’t easy. It was heavy and cumbersome, the fuel containers got in my way, and I had to anticipate braking well in advance. Mounting it was a case of swinging my left leg over the seat, and then throwing my body over. Dismounting was a case of sliding off to the left. And each time I caught the Airhawk and got my foot stuck.

^Original location of the extra fuel. Now try sitting like that with a big pair of SG10's on!

I said farewell to my family, and my dogs (leaving them is the hardest), and set off. Now, I don’t recommend doing your first ride on a fully-loaded bike, on the N1 in a pumping south-wester. I was all over the place, and had a few scooters over-take me. I started to have serious doubts about this trip, and my abilities. Was this a good idea? Can the bike handle it? Can I handle it? What happens if I drop it in the middle of nowhere (I did)? Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

I was almost ready to turn around, go home, and buy a plane ticket back to Maun.

But I pushed on, and weaved my way onwards, completely missing the turn off I had to take (the first of many missed turn-offs). When I eventually found Dodgygloss’s house, I tucked the bike in for the night, and we headed to Eden on the Bay for dinner.

My first time there, I decided to be a tourist (because technically I was), and take photo’s of the mountain. It was a beautiful sunset, and a fitting end to my holiday. 
We chatted over pizza and a drink, and the nerves and the doubt was slowly replaced with excitement.


^Showing off my new goggles (good investment, I must say!)


Day 1 – Friday 20th February 2015
Blouberg to Vioolsdrift – 663km

We were up at 05:00, with the hopes of leaving by 06:00. We would have made it, but typical woman that I am, I ended up repacking half of my stuff. We still got going by 06:00 though :)

It was an awesome start, watching the sunrise from the N7. I took the lead and set the pace (or tried to at least. I think I eventually managed to keep it at a fairly constant 115-120km/h).

^Somewhere near the N7

As we approached Malmesbury, the temperature plummeted, and I was cursing my airflow jacket and summer gloves. But as soon as the sun appeared over the mountains, it warmed up considerably and I felt refreshed.

With fuel topped up and tyre pressures checked, we continued. We had breakfast in Clanwilliam, when we eventually got there; directionally-challenged human bean that I am, I saw the turn off we had to take, and proceed to continue straight past it. Missed turn-off #2.

We stuck to the N7, stopping at almost every petrol station so I could fill up.
The DR was doing well, and I was settling in quite nicely, apart from the two 5l containers; I couldn’t figure out where to put them. If they were behind my legs, I couldn’t ride with the balls of my feet on the pegs. If I draped them over the tank, they got in the way of my knees and the handlebars. Eventually I draped them over my lap; it was more comfortable to ride like that, but a mission when topping up with fuel.

Dodgygloss almost had an off leaving Bitterfontein; he didn't see the loose gravel and gunned it a little bit too much  :patch:

Luckily the scenery was breathtaking, and soaked it all up (I’d never been that far north on the N7).

We arrived in Springbok around 14:00 and pulled in at Wimpy for lunch. I was expecting a much bigger town. Oh well. On that particular stretch we did about 170km non-stop. Bad idea. The last 50km was agony, and I could feel my concentration starting to slip. I vowed then that I wouldn’t do more than 120km without a break for the rest of my trip.

^Lunch in Springbok

Fuelled and rested, we mounted our trusty steeds once again, and set off, destination: Vioolsdrift Border Post!

The landscape was remarkable, especially as we approached the border; beautiful winding roads in canyons had me wishing my bike was light so I could really enjoy the twisties. The only downside was the temperature, which had shot up considerably!

We arrived at the border at about 16:00. We had made good time! Clearing the South African side was quick and easy, and we met up with a German(or Polish, I can’t remember) fellow on a GS (Conrad), who had, funnily enough, ridden up from Somerset West. We chatted and invited him to stay with us in Namibia.

^Left to right: Dodgygloss' XT, my DR, and Konrad's (friend's) BMW

We were sweating like pigs, and dying for some food and a cold drink, but unfortunately clearing the Namibian side of the border (Noordoewer) took painfully long (it must have been close to an hour, which is probably considered short by African standards).

But eventually we were through! 


^Yours truly

Our accommodation for the night was Amanzi River Camp, which was a couple of k’s away, and situated on the Orange River. Dodgygloss took the lead (and missed the turn-off :D ). 
The road there was mostly tar, with massive whoops; loads of fun. And the last few k’s were decent gravel (‘Don’t fall, Heather. Don’t fall, Heather. Don’t fall, Heather.)

Dodgygloss suggested this place, and I’m glad he did; it was beautiful! We set up camp, and were soon joined by Conrad (who bought us drinks – instantly put him in our good books ;) ). I stuck my toes in the Orange River for the first time in my life, and we were treated to a warm Namibian Welcome; a double rainbow, and a bit of rain.

^Setting up camp

^From the river v

We braai’d and talked biking and rubbish. The wind had picked up considerably and was threatening to blow my tent away. I can’t complain though; Conrad didn’t even have a tent. We retired around 22:00, and I settled in, using my jacket as a blanket as I didn’t want to have to spend time rolling up my sleeping bag in the morning. Bad idea.

The temperature plummeted around midnight, and that combined with the howling wind meant I kept waking up every few minutes. I decided that getting decent (warm) sleep was worth waking up 5 minutes earlier to roll up a sleeping bag, than lying there shivering my (very smelly) socks off.

I eventually got a few hours of sleep, and was up at 04:00.


Day 2 – Saturday, 21st February 2015
Vioolsdrift to Windhoek, 805km

I tried my best to pack up my camp as quietly as possible, so as not to wait Dodgygloss who was snoring away nearby. As Murphy would have it, the wind died down completely shortly after I started packing up. I got some water on the boil for coffee (than goodness Dodgygloss had packed a little gas burner!) and set about getting ready. 

I had had a brilliant idea for my fuel containers either the night before, or sometime early that morning while tying my tent down for the umpteenth time. Instead of securing them so they ran parallel to the bike, I would turn them 90 degrees. That way there would be a lot of space for my boots. Genius!

I was ready to go at about 05:50, but it was still dark, so I waited a while. Dodgygloss woke up and wished me well, we had a last photo, and I was off by 06:15.
The ride was off to a good start; I was now comfortable and settled in within the first few k’s. And I was treated to an amazing sunrise.

I had to get used to not having someone riding just behind me, and I was hit with the realisation of how big the world is. Here I was, on a motorbike, alone, on a beautifully open road, in Namibia. How cool is that?!?!

I passed some cyclists within the first hour or so, I passed a few cyclists. Respect to those people! I don’t know where you were coming from, or where you were going, but you didn’t have much on you!

I was also found cursing my summer gear once again, as the temperature dropped. But I kept telling myself to enjoy the cold, as I would be sweating and wishing for a cool breeze in a few hours’ time.

^Aaaaallll alone...

After about my second quick stop, I found my concentration slipping. Which is scary when driving a car, and completely freaked me out on the bike. But Keetmanshoop wasn’t too far away, and I managed to keep myself focused long enough to pull into the Wimpy there at about 10:00.

I had a huge cup of coffee, and lekker brekkie, and then just sat and relaxed for about 15 minutes. It’s amazing how you can recharge like that!
And then it was back on the bike, next stop, Tses!

^Excuse the nasty earplugs. But look, 50 000km old!!!

^Mirage in the distance


About 80km away, I entertained myself by singing. Unfortunately I only know all the lyrics to about 5 songs, so it was a bit like a CD stuck on repeat. But it kept me busy. So much so that, you guessed it, I missed the turn-off for Tses. Well, it was a combination of my singing, and me thinking ‘Surely that dirt road isn’t the turn off...’. 

But I turned back, and the road seemed to lead towards the buildings, so I took it. I really got into it and was just thinking that I should switch the GoPro on. Well, I went to Tses in search of fuel, and found sand instead. Thick sand. In a tight turn. While I was travelling at a reasonable speed. I had never really ridden sand before. And before I knew it, the bike was all over the show. I managed to keep it upright initially, but then the sand won, and I was flung off.

Great. This is the very thing I was worried about! I got up and hit the kill switch, and turned the ignition and spot-lights off; the last thing I needed on top of this was a dead battery. I took off my helmet and gloves in an attempt to stay cool. 

And I tried to pick up the bike. The last time I dropped a bike while alone, I cracked a rib and also faceplanted while trying to pick it up. I didn’t want a repeat of that. While figuring out the best way to lift it, I saw two kids walking nearby, a girl and boy, probably about 7 years old.

I shouted for them to come over. “Hey guys, how are you doing? I need some help please! Are you feeling strong? Ok, I need you to push over there,” I indicated near the topbox. They grabbed onto whatever they could find, and I grabbed onto the handlebars. “Okay, one-two-three-PUSH!”. We lifted it up enough for me to able to get my right hip under the seat and use most of my body weight to get the bike upright. But I swear, these kids did most of the work.

I was so grateful, and I kept thanking them. They were really cool about it. I walked the bike to firmer ground, almost dropping it a few times in the process. The kids were babbling away, and flanked me, ready to help catch the bike. They were probably saying “Look at this idiot; can’t even push a motorbike!”

I was knackered. They gave me directions to the petrol station, and I cautiously set off. Only to find a perfectly good tar road. I hadn’t missed the turn-off for Tses! If I had carried on another 200m, I would have found the tar road. Idiot!

I filled the bike with fuel, and took the time in the shade to rehydrate. A local pulled in and we got chatting. He was impressed by the bike, and insisted on helping me tape up a spotlight which was starting to rattle loose. Turns out he was from Oranjemund, but had moved to Tses to retire and farm livestock. Cool oke. 

Once I had suited up, he asked me to rev the bike, which I duly did. I tried to look cool, revving it like crazy, only to almost stall and fall over as I pulled out of the petrol station (it was on gravel, okay...).

The scenery continued to impress, and the temperature continued to soar. I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn just before 16:00, and stopped for selfie. 

^Here you can see the fuel container clearly

I reached Windhoek around 17:00 and was blown away (no really, there was rain and the wind was blowing).
There were mountains. And twisties. And a proper town lay before me. I was expecting something a lot more like Maun. This was awesome! Why didn’t I move here?! They even have go-karting and laser-tag!

^Seeing Windhoek for the first time

I eventually found my accommodation (I told you I’m directionally-challenged!); the Arrbusch Travel Lodge.

I got to my room, chained my bike to a pole, took the valuable stuff off, fought with the lock on the door, dumped everything in the room, and took a shower for the first time since Thursday morning. Just what my aching body needed after 800km’s on the road!

I watched TV, and then headed to the restaurant. I ordered some ribs (really good ribs), and a beer, just so that I could say I drank a Windhoek in Windhoek. I was hoping they would have some exotic Namibian beer, but alas, there was only Windhoek and Tafel.

I went to sleep early, and the last thing I remember was my head hitting the pillow.


Day 3 – Sunday 22nd February 2015
Windhoek to Maun, 810km

My alarm clock sounded at 05:00 and I shot out of bed. Which is unusual for me; I like hitting snooze. I got some coffee on the go while I packed up my stuff, and was, once again, ready while it was still dark. So I waited, and set off just after 06:30.

^Check that sunrise!!!

I managed to find the B6 without getting lost (amazing!), but didn’t come across any petrol stations. ‘Oh well, I’m sure there will be one at the airport’ which was about 50km out of town (though one sign said 50km, and then about 2km later another said 40km). 

That was a mistake. One I had made before, in Durban. I was low and petrol and approaching the airport, so I decided to pull in there to top up. I drove around and around, and, no petrol station. By now my fuel was well in the red. And then I went the wrong way when leaving the airport. Long story short, I managed to find a petrol station before running out of fuel.

So, you think I would have learnt from that experience. Nope. I got to the airport, and drove around and around, and, no petrol station. Great. I could do about another 60km, and the next fuel station was 140km away. But, I did have 6l spare in the containers. 

^Beautiful road

So I pushed on, and ran out of fuel once the odo hit 195km. I topped up from the containers, took some photos, and carried on.
Luckily there was a town (Witvlei) before my planned fuel stop (Gobabis), and I pulled in there to fill the bike’s tank and the containers.

I wouldn’t be stopping anywhere for breakfast or lunch, so when I filled up in Gobabis, I took a little longer than usual, checking tyre pressures and munching on a cereal bar. After about a 30 minute rest, I set off again; next stop, the Border!

I was in high spirits. Not even the storm ahead of me could dampen them. Though it did dampen my clothes; my bright green poncho torn and streaming behind me like a cape. I thought of stopping to take it off, but figured ‘Screw it, I’ll leave it; I might just give the other motorists a laugh!’. 

^Storm ahead. Luckily it was moving south quite rapidly and I only caught the edge of it

I reached the border just after 11:00. Clearing the Namibian side was quick and easy. I stopped at the check-point and no one was there. After waiting a minute, I continued and stopped at the next building. Where I was asked to complete a declaration of Ebola-free-ness. And when I went to hand it in, was told I was in the wrong place; that was to enter Namibia. The lady said “No, you don’t need to come here. Your passport has already been stamped. Now go to Botswana!”. Oops.

So I went to another checkpoint and the cop and I got chatting while he checked my passport. He asked about my fuel range and I said it was only about 200km, so I was a bit worried. And he said “Ja, you will need to fill up in Gobabis, and then Windhoek”. Hang on... That wasn’t right.
“Sorry sir, but I think I’m in the wrong place. I want to go to Botswana.”
“Eish! Then you musn’t be here. You must do a U-turn! This is to go back into Namibia!”

^If you see this sign, you're heading back to Namibia!


If we hadn’t got chatting, I would have ridden straight back into Namibia. Laughing, I thanked him profusely, turned around, and found the road to Botswana. Eish!
Clearing here was painless. Once through, I took another food break. Not long now and I would be home. I was getting excited!

Not much happened. The road was brilliant; few potholes and only a couple of animals, which scattered at the mighty roar of the DR. Now, if you ever want to see a cow get a skrik and run, ride a DR past it. It was hilarious! The donkey’s however, didn’t care.

^Goat, anyone?
A normal sight in Botswana

I stopped in Ghanzi for fuel, and enjoyed a lunch of Energade, a chocolate and a Cornetto (first one in years!). 

This would be my last fuel stop, unless there was a petrol station in Lake Ngami. 300km to go!

It was really cool riding through the little villages; the kids would run to the road and wave, and even the adults would look up from what they were doing and give a thumbs up or wave. I felt famous!

^So green! V

If there is a petrol station at Lake Ngami, I didn’t find it. But then, I didn’t look for it either. I decided it was a good time to see how far my bike can go until the tank runs dry. 235km.

^Near Lake Ngami V

I stopped one more time to top up from the containers, and savoured the last 70km or so to Maun. There were hills, and even a little valley, with green trees and grass and shrubs lining the road. Beautiful!

I pulled into Maun just before 18:00, and immediately had to adjust to Africa-time, where everyone drives at 40km/h. 

My journey was over. I pulled into the driveway, parked me steed, took a deep breath and smiled. I had done it. I had travelled through 3 countries, in 3 days, 2/3rd’s of which was solo. 

^Home sweet home!

Living the dream!